Betty’s Week

By Betty Shearer

On Tuesday of last week, I arrived home to find a freshly mowed lawn, courtesy of my wonderful brothers, and a cool house. I had forgotten to call Scott Russell of North Mississippi Mechanical, who takes care of my heating and air, to come by and check my air conditioner so I could turn it on. 

Well he did just that and even turned it on so when I arrived home it was to a wonderfully cool home. Thanks, Scott, you’re a good man.

Earlier in the day David had filled my windshield washer so I could see while driving down the road. I’d been cleaning the windshield with Windex for several days, because of forgetting to purchase washer fluid.

Had to go down the street Tuesday morning and as I passed CarQuest, the light bulb came on and I popped in to get a gallon. It’s so much fun to get a present and my windshield fluid was just that. A former customer had the men at CarQuest top her wiper fluid off and it didn’t take much to fill hers, so she instructed them to give the rest to a customer who wanted to buy a gallon—that was me. 

I had money to purchase fluid, but it’s so nice to find folks so thoughtful—just made my day. And it’s also wonderful to be able to see the road, without stopping to clean with Windex after being splashed with muddy water.

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Wednesday morning as I turned into the parking lot at the rear of the building, the paper delivery truck was backing into his unloading spot. Whipped in beside him and instructed him not to take papers inside—just  hand them to me. Opened my van doors and tailgate and as he handed them to me I placed them in the appropriate spot in the van. Made short order of unloading his truck and loading the van. 

Did it so fast that I had to wait for stores to open so I could begin my deliver. Found a few folks at Larson’s for breakfast, very few customers at Tobacco World, so Linda and I got in a visit. At the hospital I had to peck on the door to get in—was too early for them to unlock. Then at Dunn’s I was surprised to find very few breakfast eaters or fishermen. Everyone must have been getting ready for the big holiday coming up this week. 

Fourth of July was always a fun time for  our family—it was one of the few days we all got off at the same time. For many years there was a Fourth of July picnic at the Cole House. First one I remember included roasting a whole hog—now folks that’s a lot of meat. The boys started about six the afternoon of the 3rd and cooked all night. The cooking crew had scheduled each one a time to tend the meat and fire. Cooking was over a dug pit, built down close to the barn, and the enclosure, I think, was made from scrap tin. The hog was hung from a beam, built with scrap wood and a metal bar with a pulley, to which was attached a single tree. Hog was hung to this apparatus by his hind feet and to the single tree was attached an old ice cream  churn motor. The first several motors were housed in plastic and soon burned out. Finally the cooks found an antique motor, made of cast iron, and it ran for the rest of the  night. Meat was well roasted and was excellent.

It fell Jimmie’s, Mom’s and my duty to take all this meat off the bone and pull or chop it. I’ve never been so sick of pork (and this was even before I ate a barbecue meal) in my life. I’m sure Mom and Jimmie felt the same way. After about 50-plus family and friends were fed, we had to bag gallons of meat, which we enjoyed until the  next cooking, July Fourth of the  next year. This time the boys decided that half-hog would be enough.

With all that’s going on in all our lives now, we don’t have these wonderful gatherings. However, we  enjoy reliving them. This year I’ll be with Mom on Thursday and other members of the families will be in smaller groups, I’m sure. Several of that original group are no longer with us and Mom is not able to chop her part of the meat.

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Wednesday afternoon Mel and I got statements almost ready for mailing, before she had to go home and  I had to go to prayer meeting. She had plenty of time to finish the task though, because David had a trip to Parchman with Kairos Prison Ministry and was going to be gone the rest of the week and I had Mom on Thursday and Friday—Brother Bo had another doctor’s appointment. 

With both David and I occupied elsewhere, she was left to man the office by herself. She reported that she was sick of the Herald by the end of Friday. Around holidays traffic in the office is usually very slim and I’m sure it did get boring.

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Mom was in good spirits Thursday, ate well at all meals, took meds without a struggle, and it was just a pleasant day. When Jimmie arrived to relieve me and feed Mom  her supper, she reported that they also had a good day on Wednesday. Said Mom seemed to be back to her old fun loving self. Jimmie says when she spoke to Mom, she ask, “Do you know who I am?” Intentionally not calling her Mom. Said Mom says, “Sure, you’re my daughter.” Then Jimmie says, “I ask her what my name was”. Said, Mom gave her one of those looks and replied, “If you don’t know who you are, you’re worse off that I am.” Well that’s our mother and I hope she keeps that sense of humor for a long time.

Friday Mom had another great day and we are so thankful for these good days.

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Monday was an exciting and enjoyable  day at the Herald because  of our visitors. First in was David’s father, John, who spent the first year after Ed’s death with us. It was so good to see him and catch up with what’s been going on in his life. He and his wife now live in  New Orleans. David said he brought him over so he could keep his hand in as a newspaper editor. He was sent to the supervisors meeting. Of course, he covered many of these meetings during 2004, before going back to the family paper in Panola County in 2005. We are enjoying him being with us for a visit.

Second visitor was Frances Johnson, who brought some of the most delicious tea cakes I’ve enjoyed since my Mom was able to cook. Thanks, Frances, your gift brought back so many great memories of days when we would return from school and find freshly baked Tea Cakes in the warming closet of the old wood burning range. Your cakes were just as good as Moms and deeply appreciated.

Third in was Annis Gholson, who had been cleaning and had discovered some old Heralds. She thought we might enjoy them. And I did for most of the morning, and plan to delve further into their contents when we get this paper to press. One was a three section December 17, 1942 North Mississippi Herald, which was the Christmas paper, but was dedicated to Water Valley and surrounding area military men. 

So many of these men I knew well and many others I recognized their names. Very few of them were completely unknown to me. A few of the very familiar ones were our late Postmaster and Ben Franklin Store owner, Paul Parker, postman, Jack Craven, mail carrier and Water Valley Sports Complex Manager James B. “Crip” Tyler, Judge Kermit R. Cofer, Bank of Water Valley President Barron Caulfield, Water Valley Native and former coastal newspaper editor and then automobile dealer in the Valley Oscar Parsons, and the list contains so many more—some I knew who gave their all for the cost of freedom. Another Herald was the 1931 paper dedicated to the Water Valley watermelon growers  and containing some interesting events in the Watermelon Carnival. 

Another was not a Herald, but a paper that was printed for a number of years, alongside the Herald, The Progress Itemizer, dated June 23, 1927, which contained some interesting pictures of prominent buildings in the Valley. A few of them were the O’tuckolofa School, which was later destroyed by the tornado, First Baptist, North Main Methodist, and Episcopal churches, the post office, which was very new, the Water Valley Hospital, and several others.

Cheryl Fly came by to pay her mother’s subscription while we were enjoying these papers and told about a neighbor who when cleaning out her mother’s house tossed so many items that should have been saved. I encourage everyone who is disposing of family treasurers to let someone, or the library, go through the things being discarded. This might  prevent a lot of  history from being destroyed.

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